Martin Helme skips corruption committee meeting discussing Aidu Wind Farm ({{contentCtrl.commentsTotal}})

Minister of Finance Martin Helme (EKRE)
Minister of Finance Martin Helme (EKRE) Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

Minister of Finance Martin Helme (EKRE) did not attend a session of the Riigikogu's Special Committee Against Corruption, where he planned to talk about his involvement in the Aidu wind farm dispute.

Chairman of the committee Katri Raik (SDE) told ERR Helme's advisor announced two and a half hours before the start of the hearing that he would not be present. No explanation was given.

Raik said this is not the first time Helme has failed to attend the meeting and that the commission will call on him again in January. If he does not attend again, Raik would like to call Helme on the order of the Riigikogu.

"According to the Riigikogu's Home and Rules of Procedure Act, the minister must appear before the commission. And there are many issues that concern the Aidu wind farm," said Raik.

Raik said she wants to ask if Helme has been pleased with the decisions made at the Aidu wind farm.

Earlier this month, it was revealed by newspaper Postimees that the owners of Aidu wind farm had been looking to solve an ongoing long-running legal dispute about the construction through Martin Helme, despite this not being a matter the Minister of Finance should have any say in, and circumventing other ministries.

A request for information submitted by daily Postimees revealed that since late April, when the government entered office, Oleg and Andres Sõnajalg have met with either Helme or his advisers Kristel Menning and Kersti Kracht on at least ten occasions.

What is most noteworthy is that Helme as minister of finance had any say in the matter whatsoever, since the field is part of the area of governance of the minister of economic affairs, Taavi Aas (Centre).

Director general at one of the authorities, the Consumer Protection and Technical Regulatory Authority (TTJA), Kaur Kajak, said he was summoned before EKRE ministers this fall, and was advised to treat the Sõnajalgs in a more favorable way.

Kajak was asked to attend the meeting on September 17 by then-IT and foreign trade minister Kert Kingo (EKRE), even though the TTJA falls under the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Infrastructure's aegis.

The meeting was also attended by Martin Helme, and his adviser Kristel Menning, and followed the decision by the Supreme Court a week earlier that the wind farm construction permits were valid only certain conditions, including the height of the turbines not exceeding 185 meters. The first two turbines erected by the Sõnajalg brothers at this point had already reach 220 meters in height, which disrupts radar military radar in the area, it is claimed.

According to sources, Kingo said at the meeting that as the Supreme Court had ruled in favor of the Sõnajalg brothers, the supervision proceedings regarding the Aidu wind farm should be terminated, and asked Kajak if he would be the one to compensate the developers for damages in the long-running case.

Kajak added that since he had not been explicitly ordered to terminate the proceedings, he did not feel any pressure to do so. But he deemed it necessary to inform both the minister of economic affairs, Taavi Aas (Centre), and the secretary general of the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications, Ando Leppiman, of the meeting.

State officials regard the matter of concern for two reasons. First, the minister of finance is effectively conducting parallel proceedings into the Aidu wind farm, which is anomalous and entails corruption risks. Second, political pressure may render officials cautious.

"The Sõnajalg brothers frequently met with ministers this summer, and at some point, the ministers' position changed. The Sõnajalgs then went on to say that the issue had been decided," a source from the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications told Postimees.

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Editor: Helen Wright

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